The Washington Redskins will retire their team name Monday — putting an end to a moniker that has stood for the last 87 years, a league source confirmed to The Washington Times.
Washington is set to make a formal announcement in the morning, but a league source added that the team will not reveal its new name just yet. The news comes 10 days after Washington announced it was conducting a “thorough review” of its name following pressure from activists and corporations to make a change.
Sports Business Daily was first to report the news. The publication added a new name won’t be revealed because “trademark issues are pending.”
The Washington Times reported last week that owner Dan Snyder abandoned his pursuit of “Warriors” — a popular alternative to the team’s name — in 2019 and lost the chance to secure the name earlier this year. Records from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office show that Snyder had an opportunity to pursue the term again in April 2019, following the reopening of Snyder’s 2007 pursuit of “Warriors.”
But the Redskins owner neither responded to the trademark office, nor did he appeal a default judgment when the case was ruled “abandoned” in March. While Snyder could always reapply for Warriors, legal experts pointed to multiple issues that could make it difficult to obtain the name.
Regardless, Snyder is in the hunt for a new name — a stunning reversal from when the owner vowed in 2013 that he would “never” change it and was adamant that the name honored American Indians.
Washington’s path toward a change, in some ways, though, has felt inevitable due to the national reckoning over race-related issues that has happened in wake of George Floyd’s death in late May. Entities have grappled with names, images, symbols, monuments deemed racist and offensive, taking action to dissociate from their past. NASCAR, for instance, banned the Confederate flag from its race tracks, while brands like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s vowed to rebrand.
Over the past month, politicians, activists and corporations have all pressed for Washington to make a change. Corporate America’s involvement, in particular, has been especially notable given sponsors had stood by Snyder and the team, despite previous calls for the team to stop using “Redskins.”
On July 2, FedEx revealed it had asked Washington to stop using its name, a significant shift in the debate as the shipping giant is the team’s naming rights partner for its stadium in Landover, Maryland. Further, The Washington Post reported that in a two-page letter to Washington, FedEx threatened to remove all signage from the stadium after the 2020 season unless a change was made.
Other corporations like Nike, Target, Walmart and Amazon stopped selling the team’s merchandise online.
Those elements led Washington to officially ditch the name. Monday’s announcement, too, was hinted after over the weekend when Yahoo Sports NFL reporter Charles Robinson said on a Dallas radio station that the team’s name change was imminent — and could happen within a day or two. Robinson said the NFL had begun informing teams to “start scrubbing” references to the Redskins on team materials.
By retiring “Redskins,” Washington makes a move that has been long called for by American Indian groups, but one that could be divisive among the team’s fan base. Some fans have said they will stop following the team should a change happen, while others have maintained they will always refer to the team as “the Redskins.”
Founding owner George Preston Marshall nicknamed his team the Redskins in 1933, a year after the team’s inception (then known as the Boston Braves). Marshall, a known segregationist, moved the Redskins to the District in 1937 and was the last NFL owner to integrate his team — not adding a Black player until 1961. The team drafted Black running back Ernie Davis first overall and traded him to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for running back Bobby Mitchell, who was also Black.
Washington removed all references to Marshall from team material last month, including removing him from the Ring of Fame.
The franchise also renamed a section of FedEx Field that was once titled “George Preston Marshall Level” after Mitchell.